Will Reds prospect Hunter Greene have a similar impact to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow?
Joe Burrow’s debut for the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday didn’t go as planned, but there’s no denying the talent the young quarterback has and the hype he’s generated. Do the Cincinnati Reds have a young, talented prospect waiting in the wings, ready to become the newest face of the franchise? I believe they do, and his name is Hunter Greene.
It’s hard to compare baseball players and football players, but I’m going to try nonetheless. After a 2-14 season in 2019, the Cincinnati Bengals owned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and elected to take Burrow. Likewise, the Reds rebuild netted them a pair of top picks. One was used to take centerfielder Nick Senzel in 2016, and the other was used to take Greene in 2017.
One of the biggest differences between the National Football League and Major League Baseball is the expected impact of first-round draft picks. In the NFL, rookies are expected to make an immediate impact. Burrow is already the Bengals starting quarterback and has the eyes of the world on him.
It’s a bit different for Hunter Greene. While the Reds No. 2 overall prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, was a highly-coveted two-way player coming out of high school, no one expected Greene to make an impact at the big league level until next season at the earliest, and it may even be 2022 before we see the right-hander toe the rubber in the Queen City.
NFL draftees have the advantage of playing at least two, sometimes three, and more often four years of college ball before making it in the league. Joe Burrow originally committed to play college football for Ohio State, but after two years as J.T. Barrett’s backup, he decided to transfer to LSU. As a redshirt senior, Burrow led his team to the National Championship while also taking home the Heisman Trophy.
That experience led to Burrow being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Greene, who is still just 21-years old, has yet to play above A-Ball, as he was sidelined last season following Tommy John surgery. Greene is, however, at Prasco Park this season, working on developing even more as a pitcher.
Hunter Greene’s fastball regularly hits 100-MPH. That electric stuff is what landed the California native in Cincinnati, and it’s likely to be what will propel Greene to major leagues sooner rather than later. When that time comes, Greene is likely to receive a lot of the same fan fare that Burrow has for the past several weeks leading up to yesterday’s first career start.
Nick Senzel had a certain amount of hype surrounding him before making his big league debut last season. Before Senzel, the last “big name” prospect to debut for the Reds was probably Jay Bruce back in 2008. Given Hunter Greene’s draft status, 100-plus MPH fastball and his engaging personality, he’s likely to garner a lot of attention when he finally makes his major league debut.
The city of Cincinnati is gripped by Joe Burrow fever right now, and rightfully so. Burrow represents a changing of the guard for the Bengals franchise. Will Greene offer that same level of optimism when he makes his major league debut? Time will tell, but I’m thinking he will.